Time to become Asian chess masterAsia’s fortunes may be rising, but success and growth require more than hard work and cheap products. They also demand creative approaches to business and politics.
The continent cannot reverse the tide of the turbulent global economy by settling for slow growth, and Korea needs to continue fostering innovation and push for more entrepreneurship to tap Asia’s burgeoning consumer market. The country has already showed its potential in creating information, digital and communication technology, while our popular culture has telegraphed our energy to the world.
To pave the way for more growth, however, greater deregulation is needed. We must also sign free trade agreements with China and Japan and strengthen our cooperation with other Asian countries to broaden the playground for our young entrepreneurs.
Moreover, without stable political leadership or regional peace and security, Asian countries will struggle to prosper. In light of Washington’s newly adopted “pivot to Asia” policy, the web of ties between the second-term administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korea, China and Japan will prove crucial in shaping the region’s development. If the three Northeast Asian countries continue to bicker over history or engage in territorial spats instead of reinforcing ties, everyone in Asia stands to lose.
China and Japan are currently locked in a high-stakes game of chicken over the uninhabited Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, and tension could elevate to a military clash anytime. The two countries have been competing to build up arms and becoming more assertive militarily, which threatens to jeopardize peace and security in the region. The situation could come to a head if the U.S. and Japan join hands to pressure China, and if China retaliates by looking the other way as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear objectives. Somehow, the disputing nations will have to work out a solution without sacrificing their sovereign rights.
Seoul will have to tread carefully in maintaining its alliance with Washington and cooperative ties with Beijing to avoid becoming merely a bit player amid the battle between the U.S. and China for dominance in the region. We also need to improve ties with North Korea. While officially condemning its provocative actions, the door to dialogue should be kept open. Ordering Pyongyang to reform itself at this point would seem foolish. We need a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations so as not to miss out on our chance to rise in Asia’s era.